During the ’90s and at the start of this century, Sri Lanka was an unstoppable force. Although their overall win percentage hovers around 30% in Tests, around the year 2000, the island nation was remarkably dominant. In fact, their record of nine Test wins in a row between 2001 and 2002 was the third best at that time. Sri Lanka holds the highest test score, 952/6 against India, recorded till now. Individual records, such as most wickets and highest Test partnership, also belong to the Lankans. While we are on this topic, let’s take a look at the all-time best Sri Lankan XI in Test cricket history.
Openers: Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu
It is interesting to note that Sanath Jayasuriya was initially considered as a bowler who could bat a bit. However, as things stand, he is one of the greatest batsmen to have walked out for Sri Lanka in Test and ODI cricket. In Tests, the southpaw is currently his country’s third-highest run-scorer with 6973 runs, including a triple-century, in 110 games. The attacking cricketer also has 98 Test wickets to his name.
If Jayasuriya took risks at one end, it was Atapattu’s conservative approach at the other end which brought balance to this opening partnership. The sixth-best run-scorer for Sri Lanka in Tests, the former captain also held a record for carrying his bat through a completed inning.
Middle-Order: Kumar Sangakkara (WK), Mahela Jayawardene, Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga
It will be an all-star middle-order for the best Sri Lankan XI in Test cricket. At No.3, we have the team’s highest run-scorer Kumar Sangakkara. Across 15 years, the southpaw accumulated 12400 runs with 38 centuries and 52 half-centuries. He was also part of the highest Test partnership ever with Mahela Jayawardene, who plays at No.5 in this XI. Mahela’s knock of 374 is the highest-ever individual score for Sri Lanka.
The other two members of this middle-order belong to the dominant team of the ’90s. In 93 matches, Aravinda de Silva scored 6361 runs and was part of some famous wins. The legendary captain Arjun Ranatunga was at the helm of the Test squad for 56 games. In this stint, he helped Sri Lanka win 12 matches. With the bat, the 1996 World Cup-winning captain is the tenth highest scorer for his country in Tests.
All-Rounder: Angelo Mathews
Angelo Mathews will be the only all-rounder in the best Sri Lankan XI in Tests. Yet, the squad oozes balance because batsmen like Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva and Ranatunga were more than efficient bowlers, too.
Talking about Mathews, he was a youngster when the legendary team was in action and was probably the only one who carried the pedigree. He is currently Sri Lanka’s fifth-best run-scorer, better than the likes of Atapattu and Dilshan. Mathews holds the record for the fewest ducks/innings ratio in Test cricket history. He has got just two ducks in 90 games, so far. With the ball, the man from Colombo has taken a total of 33 wickets till now.
Bowlers: Chaminda Vaas, Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath and Muttiah Muralitharan
Chaminda Vaas and Suranga Lakmal will lead the pace attack for the all-time best Sri Lankan XI in Test Cricket history. With 355 wickets, Vaas is the best Lankan pacer to have played the game. The left-arm quick has a Test century to his name as well. He is also one of the rare cricketers to hit 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in Tests. Suranga Lakmal is silently climbing up the charts in Sri Lankan cricket. He has played 66 games so far and has taken 167 wickets, the second-best record for a pacer in Sri Lanka, just behind Vaas.
The right-hand bowler to have picked the most Test wickets is Muralitharan, and the left-hand bowler to have collected the most Test wickets is Rangana Herath. That tells you the clan of this spin attack. Together, they have a total of 1233 wickets in Test cricket. While Murali was at his peak when the dominant Sri Lankan XI was in action, Herath took most of his wickets after the legends of his country retired.